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Remembering the fallen

Members of HMAS Canberra have attended a small ceremony at the Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore to pay their respects to those who died defending Singapore and Malaya during World War II.

Among the 4400 Commonwealth casualties buried or commemorated at Kranji are nine Indigenous soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“This will stick with me forever.”

Two Indigenous members of the Australian Defence Force placed a cross at the headstone of one of the soldiers.

Petty Officer Shae Bradshaw said it was an honour.

“It’s pretty special to commemorate everyone, but the fact that Indigenous soldiers were mentioned during the service really means a lot,” Petty Officer Bradshaw said.

“As an Indigenous person, you have a relationship with your land and your home; so being able to visit the graves and bring the relationship from a living and serving member to a person in the ground is hugely significant.

Private Crystal Stephens, a chef in HMAS Canberra, was pleased to represent the ADF’s Indigenous community at the ceremony.

“There aren’t many Indigenous people on board so I always like to represent where I can.

“This opportunity gave me a great sense of pride; it was really special,” Private Stephens said.

“There aren’t many Indigenous people on board so I always like to represent where I can.

“It’s also nice to be able to represent the Army as an Indigenous woman.”

The Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, and navy chiefs from Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom also attended the ceremony.

“It is particularly humbling to be able to collectively remember the sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

Within Kranji War Cemetery stands the Singapore Memorial, which bears the name of more than 24,000 casualties of Commonwealth land and air forces who have no known grave.

The ceremony was organised during Canberra’s visit to Singapore as part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019.

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